Thursday, February 26, 2009

USF1 -- We've Seen This Movie

It must be the off-season, since the F1 media is busy trying to create a firestorm of press around the recent content-free announcemnt of the USF1 project.

Peter Anderson writes on F1Fanatic that the proposed team has many challenges in the areas of Logistics and Finance, not to mention the possible strategic blunder right from the start:
For me, the biggest own goal is passing up the opportunity to buy Honda Racing.
And he's right there. This kind of mistake could be caused either by financial concerns -- in that USF1 doesn't have the finance to execute a purchase of the Honda team -- or arrogance -- in that USF1 doesn't think they need to know anything of the status quo and that they will succeed without any help.

Logistics are indeed another challenge. Trying to run an international sporting team from the US will mean that the team members are going to live on planes. It could be argued that for much of the year they will probably not be back at their "base" because they have to stay at the next event's location in order to acclimatize to the timezone, while their competitors are only a couple of timezones away at their bases. Such a routine will burn people out very quickly.

Thing is, we've seen this kind of grandstanding several times. People announce teams and projects and then back out, for example, the ProDrive project that came and went over the years. Even organizations which buy struggling teams will come in with grand announcements and plans, only to get bought out themselves in a few years -- witness the journey taken by the Jordan Midland Spyker Force India team, or the various struggles that Minardi took over the years, or Honda's saga with Super Aguri. Even Honda themselves started their own team years ago only to slowly take over the Tyrell BAR team.

The bottom line is that with no racing there isn't much else to write about, and the founders of USF1 are undoubtedly enjoying the attention that this exercise is getting. Attention for a new project is good, as it will help raise their visibility which will help when trying to find a budget and components.

But overall I remain skeptical about the whole exercise. Until a USF1 shows up at an official F1 event, be it a race or a test, this is all just a bunch of hot air.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Engine Clarification Clarified

So after the discussion of the engine rules for 2009, Autosport reports on the latest clarification:
The FIA is set to refine the 2009 F1 engine rules so that teams cannot make a change after the start of Saturday morning practice, can exclusively reveal.
This makes sense and is in keeping with the FIA's current cost-reduction mindset. Leaving in a loop hole that would permit changing the engines after P3 would mean that as a matter of course each team would have to consider whether or not they wanted (or, to get/keep a competitive advantage, needed) to make the engine change, and you would see all kinds of silliness going on around that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Video: 2008 to 2009 explained

Red Bull has a video up showing the difference between the 2008 and 2009 rules.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 so far

F1Fanatic has a post up with visual comparisons of the seven (arguably eight) cars announced so far.

While the Red Bull is the most visually interesting so far, just about all the cars have interesting elements.

It is also apparent to me that the shark fin on the back of the cars will probably be a circuit-specific modification for some teams; while the Toyota was unveiled with only a small fin, its first public test showed it running a much more pronounced fin.

Monday, February 9, 2009

RB5 Unveiled

Red Bull has introduced their 2009 challenger, the RB5 (see also photos and technical analysis). Autosport reports that the design of the RB5 was kept fluid as long as possible, leading to the "more developed" look than some of the rival cars.

Personally I find the kink in the nose of the car the most visually interesting (but not pretty) feature, giving the car an almost hunch-back look when contrasted to the very narrow nose tip. It is difficult to make out some of the other details on the car given the paint scheme that Red Bull uses, so we will have to wait for the studio photos before we can examine them in any detail.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

FIA still Kangaroos in search of a court

With the release of the '09 cars, the Toyota and Williams cars seem to have taken a "creative" approach to the diffusers, in that they appear to exceed the maximum height of 175 mm at their peak through clever aerodynamic shaping of the rear crash structure.

F1Fanatic claims this is the FIA's response to the controversy:
The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and have exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way. But somebody may challenge it and the stewards may take a different view - it could happen. other words, "it's legal until we decide it isn't."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

IT in F1

A great article briefly describing how Force India uses Information Technology and how their department does their jobs:
Force India's Head of Information Technology Adrian Collinson leads a small team of six people that provides a variety of IT services at the factory and wind tunnel in the UK, as well as support to the race and test teams. Working with Adrian is David Lippiatt and Shona Gilchrist who provide factory support; Robert Hardwidge, who provides exclusive support to the race team; Katie Hanna, who looks after the first line help desk; and Jonathan Ruffley, who provides Computer Aided Design (CAD) support. Between the six of them, they look after more than 250 users within the team, which equates to roughly 500 physical desktops, laptops, and servers.